The Western world’s first drug to fix faulty genes promises to transform the lives of patients with an ultra-rare disease that clogs their blood with fat. The only snag is the price. Continued reading….
Varicose veins are blood vessels that have become enlarged and twisted over time. They can appear close to the surface of the skin in hues that range from purple to blue, and while they occur most frequently in the legs and feet, varicose veins can be found anywhere in the body. They are more common in the legs and feet because of the pressure that is placed on veins as we stand and walk in upright positions. Varicose veins are not only unattractive to look at they can be painfully uncomfortable.
Various Kinds of Varicosities
A patient seeking treatment for varicose veins would usually come to a medical office like mine and consult with a vascular surgeon. General surgeons may also be able to help individuals with varicose veins, but a vascular surgeon has more experience treating them and is specialized in the treatment of all blood vessels. In fact, I treat only patients with vein and artery problems. You may wonder if there are different classifications of varicose veins, and to you I would respond, â€œyes.â€ There are three general kinds of varicose veins and they include the following:
- Trunk varicose veins
- Reticular varicose veins
- Telangiectasia varicose veins
Trunk Varicose Veins
Varicose veins that are thick, bumpy, and appear to be close to the surface of the skin are probably trunk varicose veins. These blood vessels are often pretty large and long, and they can be unpleasant to behold. Some patients report no pain or discomfort associated with these varicosities, however, it is pretty common to hear others report that they are not only unattractive but they are also painful.
I met a patient for the first time in the early spring one year. She was expecting her third child and complained of painful varicose veins that had appeared on her calves. I explained that one of the risk factors to developing varicosities is pregnancy. A womanâ€™s body changes so rapidly during pregnancy to accommodate for a growing baby. Itâ€™s common to pack on 15-20 pounds during a healthy pregnancy, and oftentimes women can gain more. Weight gain paired with the extreme pressure that a pregnant uterus places on everything within the abdominal cavity and below it can easily cause otherwise healthy blood vessels to become varicose veins.
Reticular Varicose Veins
Reticular varicose veins are frequently grouped together, twisting around one another and becoming a tangle of vessels. They are also usually red in appearance. If they are in your legs, you might also experience the following symptoms in addition to seeing them:
- Legs that feel heavy and achy
- Muscle cramp sensations that occur frequently
- Swelling in the feet and ankles
Telangiectasia Varicose Veins
The last class of varicosities is the telangiectasia varicose vein. Of the three types of varicose veins, patients report the least amount of discomfort from the telangiectasia veins. They are also known as spider veins, or thread veins, and they are usually quite small and fine in appearance. Thatâ€™s not to say that patients do not want to have treatments that would eradicate them, but they are generally not as sinister in nature as trunk or reticular varicose veins. Spider veins are commonly found on the face and on the legs.
Causes of Varicose Veins
To clearly define the causes of varicose veins, I must first explain how blood vessels operate. Blood vessels have tiny valves that open and close allowing blood to flow smoothly in one direction. Unfortunately when these valves are damaged blood can flow backwards and can pool in blood vessels. As the blood pools, pressure is created that can cause the blood vessel to become enlarged and swollen, or varicose. Risk factors for developing varicose veins include:
- Being overweight
- Old age
Varicose Vein Treatments
Fortunately, varicose veins do not usually cause serious health concerns. They can be rather unsightly and sometimes they can be downright painful. Treatment options do exist if a patient would like her varicose veins eradicated.
- Compression socks. These widely available at your local pharmacy, but I think it finding medical grade quality in a compression stocking can provide you with better relief from painful varicose veins. The pharmacist at the pharmacy can help you determine the proper size and fit for your feet and legs.
- Phlebectomy. This involves removing segments of problem blood vessels. Usually this can be done in an out-patient setting without the use of general anesthesia. It involves two or three small incisions, and the removal of the affected blood vessels.
- Sclerotherapy. This is another out-patient procedure in which a vascular surgeon would inject substances that seal varicose veins off permanently. After time the blood vessel fades and can be a lot less apparent.
Treating Varicose Veins
If you suffer from painful varicose veins in your legs, or even elsewhere, there is help. A vascular surgeon can prescribe compression stockings, or perform a phlebectomy or sclerotherapy. Treatment options are available for those who seek them.
Lauren Hill is freelance writer and long time sufferer of varicose veins. She is a contributing author for Cardiac Vascular & Thoracic Surgery Associates (CVTSA), a Virginia surgical group specializing in robotic, heart transplant and vascular surgeries. Go here to see how they can help you.
When I used to hear the phrase ‘alternative medicine,’ my first reaction was to be very distrustful. Mostly, I assumed that anything labeled alternative medicine was just untested and ineffective, and therefore not ‘real’ medicine. Now that I’ve done some research though, specifically into Chinese traditional medicine, I realize that my reaction was not only cynical, but flat-out wrong.
Medicine in the Western world
The thing that I used to define as ‘real’ medicine is in fact Western medicine. A brief history of medicine in the west shows that it descended from a specific set of medical practices first developed in ancient Egypt. In fact, ancient Egyptians were among the first to have recognizable practices of what we consider to be medicine, including surgeries, dentistry, and a relatively deep understanding of human anatomy. This idea of health care migrated to ancient Greece, primarily via Hippocrates, whose name is immortalized in the Hippocratic oath that all western doctors take. The Greek and Egyptian philosophies of medicine are still evident today, especially in the way that we deal with anatomy and diagnosing patients.
Of course, this is only one interpretation of medicine. While it is based on science and reason and has achieved amazing things, it has also failed to come up with a cure for the common cold. Western medicine can be seen as a specific methodology of dealing with the human body, and it’s not the only way of doing it.
Chinese Medicine: a long and unbroken history
In my research into the history of alternative medicine, I found that most of the cures deemed to be truly effective were Chinese in origin. It seemed worthwhile to research the history of medicine in China if I was going to understand why so many people are such great supporters of alternative medicine.
Chinese medical history begins some 3500 years ago with the first records of medical illnesses from the Shang dynasty. These medical records show that priests were diagnosing patients long ago, although most of their interpretations of disease were some form of ancestral or magical curse. Around 200 BC, though, that all changed when a book called ‘The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon.’ This book, structured as a conversation between the legendary Yellow Emperor and his ministers, gives detailed descriptions of various diseases and their treatments. It eschews the old ideas of mystical spirits and curses causing diseases and instead develops theories involving a balanced lifestyle, a good environment, and positive behaviors as the key to a healthy life.
Many of these theories involve forces of nature such as yin and yang, qi, and the five phases theory. Each of these is important because they are presented as rational and comprehensible forces that can be maintained or returned to balance. This forms the basis of traditional Chinese medicine today, and a version of this 2000+ year old book is still in use at most private practices of traditional medicine.
Traditional treatments run the gamut from acupuncture, to herbal treatments, to massage therapy. Each is based on ideas of balancing the body’s natural functions and restoring any improperly balanced functions to their normal state. These are achieved through various means and within different frameworks, but the general idea is one of balance.
Chinese Medicine as Alternative Medicine.
In the US and elsewhere, Chinese medicine is viewed through the lens of being an alternative to the standards of Western medicine. It is sometimes viewed as unscientific or unproven by Western doctors. The truth of the matter, and one that I only discovered through a good amount of research, is that Chinese medicine is based on an equally storied set of ideas as Western medicine. While it is true that not many clinical studies of traditional Chinese remedies have been carried out, there is some pretty stunning evidence that many of the remedies are equally or more effective than Western treatments.
As an example, let’s look at Astragalus root. It’s been used for a very long time in Chinese medicine to prevent colds and help with general health. Only recently has it been studied in the west, but the results have shown that it may boost the immune system significantly as well as help with blood pressure. It’s an extremely important root in China and its effects are well known, but it’s only now catching on in the US as alternative medicine. Of course, as with anything involving your health, you’ll want to consult with your doctor before starting any alternative kinds of treatments, as there may be potential side effects and interactions.
So in the end, my research showed me that alternative medicine is actually based on well-established practices that not only work well on their own, but can also be a supplement to more traditional western medicine. My hope is that alternative medicine becomes more accepted in the mainstream and part of regularly prescribed behaviors. This way, we can truly understand it as something other than the ‘other’ medicine.
The field of medicine has advanced at a mind-boggling rate in the past one hundred years. Doctors and researchers are making discoveries every day, and brilliant technology is constantly being introduced. Today, influenza, polio, and other deadly viruses are simply prevented with vaccines or treated with antibiotics. Fatalities from them are rare. Heart attacks and countless other health problems can be solved with advanced surgical procedures. Yet, this is not the only way the medical field has advanced.
In earlier days, doctors had no special uniforms and simply wore street clothes when treating patients. With the discovery of the vital role hygiene played in health, doctors and nurses began wearing simple white uniforms over their clothes to keep the environment sterile. Due to the color whiteâ€™s nature of being easily stained and dirtied, these uniforms evolved in color to pale blue and green. Eventually, they became the standard medical scrubs we recognize today.
Wearing the same uniform day in and day out can be tiresome, however, and nurses and doctors also crave some self expression. To fulfill this need, medical scrubs have slowly evolved into an immense field with countless brands and thousands of styles to choose from to suit every size, style, and need. This market is only expanding, with new innovations in medical scrubs coming out every day.
Cherokee, one of the oldest and most recognized names in medical scrubs, is a frontrunner in the medical scrubs market. They are constantly revolutionizing the idea of scrubs, with new innovations in fashion and technology. Cherokee Flexibles is a new popualar line featuring sleek, fitted designs with stretch side panels available in black, navy, or chocolate. The result is medical scrubs with added comfort and stretch, and a sleek, slenderizing look. Cherokee Tooniforms is an extensive, cheerful line of scrubs featuring countless popular cartoon characters, such as Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop, Scooby Doo, and Peanuts. Cherokee Workwear is their bestselling line of perfect basic medical scrubs, created from the finest cottons with an impeccable cut and fit. Cherokee has also collaborated with the popular trendy brand Baby Phat. The medical scrubs in this line feature the Baby Phat logo in many designs and are hip and trendy. They are so stylized, they can be worn out of work, too!
Dickies nursing uniforms is another solid brand in the field of medical scrubs. Their Natural Elements scrubs are sewn from Tencel, a super-fabric that is soft to the touch and drapes like silk. It is also good for the skin, as it naturally inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria, and wicks away moisture. The styles in this line feature soft, organic shapes. Hip Flip was one of the first lines of scrubs to put the â€˜funâ€™ in â€˜functionâ€™. The pants in this line feature elastic logoed waistbands which can be flipped for a flirty, junior fit. The coordinating solid tops in this line feature cute details like zippers. There also coordinating tops in fresh, young prints. To save the best for last, Gen Flex is a new line which took off with a bang. The scrubs in this line feature an advanced micro-sanded stretch fabric and ergonomic seaming. Best of all they feature numerous pockets to hold every necessity possible, from cell phone to ID badge. They are the perfect combo of style and function.
Medical Scrubs have come a long way since their emergence in the medical field. Medical personnel eagerly await the new innovations that are always in the making.